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It is quite obvious to me that my 156 V6 Sportwagon suspension has passed it's best. It was fitted with Koni yellow shocks before I bought the car and they are no longer up to the job.
Before I get the suspension replaced I like to do a bit of research. I am no suspension expert but I like to make an informed decision. Having read some articles on this forum I have found some interesting discussions. While some places recommend KW coilovers as the way to go, others say coilovers are not as good as conventional springs and shocks.
To start with, my Sportwagon is too low and too trashy on the roads and hits the bump stops far too easily (none of this was my doing I should add). I would like a comfortable set up that doesn't shatter my spine with every pot hole or speed bump. I do like the slightly lowered look but this brings up another question: Should I look at adjustable ARB drop links? Suspension is one of those things that can be a personal preference thing but what I am after is a slight lowering from the standard ride height but not so much that I hit the bump stops all the time. It would be nice to have a little more comfort but I do occasionally like an enthusiastic corner or two... I doubt I'll achieve everything I want because good handling and softer ride don't really go together. What have the good people here done with their V6 suspension? Coilovers or normal shocks and springs? Has anyone got adjustable ARB drop links to address negative camber? Also, the use of poly bushes over standard rubber bushes will make a difference. Like I said, I am no suspension expert so I welcome your opinions and real world experiences.
I currently have 17" wheels but am also considering 18" Blackline wheels with the new suspension.
 

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Not sure, but I too am in the process of replacing my suspension on my 156 saloon. Mainly just like for like for me. I am in the process of buying some Koni shocks.

Really you have to choose comfort or style/performance. I prefer comfort. The performance is quite fine for normal driving, and the style is already there in the car... I'm running 16" teledials which do provide a lot of extra sponge with the tyres which does help over having 17" or 18" wheels/tyres.

Not sure on your sort of budget, but suspension is an easy thing to spend a lot on. Even just replacing with stock standard components is a fair amount of money.

I think it is the springs, not the shocks that alter the ride height the most. I think there is something about getting lowering springs for the V6's and Diesels which is a little harder than for the lighter TS and JTS engines but I'm not too sure. The V6's and Diesels just need beefier springs up the front due to the extra weight.

Not sure on polybushes, but there is information around about them. Don't know about the adjustable ARB links either.

Personally, the last thing I would do is put on wheels that are bigger if I was after a less spine shattering drive.
 

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I think it is the springs, not the shocks that alter the ride height the most. I think there is something about getting lowering springs for the V6's and Diesels which is a little harder than for the lighter TS and JTS engines but I'm not too sure. The V6's and Diesels just need beefier springs up the front due to the extra weight.
If you're going to put lowering springs on the V6 be prepared to drag yourself over every gutter, speed bump, hump or hollow.
 

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I'll try not to go over things likely to have been previously discussed but make a couple of worthwhile points, hopefully.

In general, coilovers are more focused and firmer but have the advantage of off the shelf different rated springs.

Springs tend to be focused for TS front weight. The possible exception is the 7.8 coil GTA front springs. Check out the GTA forum to get a better idea.

Alfa wheels are heavy. 16" Teledials are over 9.5kg and the 17" GTA wheels are in the region of 11kg depending on design. Light weight wheels help the suspension do its intended task rather than fighting gyroscopic effects of the wheels. High unsprung inertia gets transmitted into the cabin which is another reason front ride quality can be poor.

I don't see an advantage with adjustable length ARB links. Once the front is lowered, the lower wishbones and ARB links are tilted up towards their ends. There is no room too lengthen the ARB links due to proximity of wishbone. In any case, that idea is for very low ride height.

Firm damping is beneficial to ride quality (moreso on front) but only up to a point. Adjustable damping tends to adjust only rebound damping. Too much rebound damping can jack the suspension down in certain situations so go with care.

Why not contact Leda & HBE which have paired up these days. Rhoddy Harvey Bailey should know. I think the best ride height is 360mm front and 365mm rear (length between wheel center and wheel arch). Not as low as off the shelf sports stuff, 10mm lower than Veloce but the springs must be strong enough to resist bottoming. In any case the SW doesn't have any replacement stuff tailored to it.
 

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I've just had new suspension put in my SW. Drives like a completely different car - in a good way!

I toyed with the idea for over 3 years before finally just getting it done. I did a massive amount of research and the same options always presented themselves: KW or Eibach. I went for the Eibach Pro Street S, which are essentially the same as the KW V1 kit. I also had Eibach anti-rollbars installed, which I think should be the number one thing to upgrade on all 156's. People told me what a big difference it would make, and it certainly has. The Eibach Pro Streets give a good balance between stiffness and comfort. So far I haven't had any bottoming out at all. You could spend a lot more on KW V2/V3's, but I don't think (and I've also read) that they're suited for everyday use - more for the track.

I would advise against 18" wheels - all the people of spoken to who have tried 18" wheels, have said they make the ride way too rough. 17" is the sweet spot, and these are guys who've done every mod they can to a 156.
 

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If you are going down the conventional spring/shock route, you will need rear springs from the GT. This is because the floor pan for the SW is shared with it, not the saloon, so springs suited for the rear of a saloon will be too low. I suspect that is what you have now, and are causing your issues. Possibly compounded by having front springs, and 4 shocks, not suited to the V6 and SW/GT floor. And worn wishbones/anti roll bar bushes on the front.

After much trial and error on my 2.4 SW, my recipe for perfection is as follows. 156 GTA front springs (second hand only now, but perfectly ok for many years of use, mine are 18 years old and are still doing the job just fine). Rear springs from a GT 3.2, again second hand only. Both these springs are factory Alfa Romeo speced and are the only spring absolutely designed for that engine and that floor pan. The ride height is a perfect match front to rear, its about a 25 mm drop from standard, non sportpack, height. After that an ordinary shock from any supplier, suited to the 156 GTA front and GT 3.2 rear will work brilliantly. I have Monroes to that spec and the ride is lovely, together with flat, composed handling. No crashing, no bottoming out and no diving. The latest TRW wishbones (modified with a softer bushe) for the front are the best wishbones I've fitted, 3 years in now and no wear on them, supple and noise free. Poly front anti roll bar bushes. I fitted a rear anti roll bar from a 156 GTA (second hand, saloon or SW both work) as the final piece of the jigsaw. This curbs understeer fantastically, a problem with 2.4's and V6's. If you increase the front bar diameter you will merely reintroduce the understeer. Its the extra stiffness of the rear that works against understeer, so leave the front bar as is.
After 18 years and on 307,000 miles, my car has been on this set up for 3 years, and it is perfect. I have done the Eibachs, and the fancy koni FSD's, they never felt right, but this is the business. I love every drive in the car now, and it is easy to keep it just as it is. We have a JTD Giulia in the family too, and my 156 is not far off the excellence of that now.

Agree with 17 inch wheels, I have GTA teledials on Michelins. Michelins are worth the money.
 

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Very concise description and advice by @Hugh Myles. 25mm drop from standard is probably bang on the 10mm from Veloce/360mmF, 365mmR ride height I mentioned earlier.

Although some springs are becoming hard to get, someone could do what I did with my JTS Veloce springs which was to send them to Springcoil in Sheffield for testing so that future copies are obtainable. There are a couple of specialists who still have certain Veloce, GTA, SW springs but stocks are dwindling and as Hugh stated, some are just not available anymore.
 

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If the car is going to be used in the real world I would go to stock. I have two 156`s a CF2 TS and a`98 CF2 V6, the TS having the standard Lusso spec suspension, the V6 Veloce suspension, the TS riding much much better and despite the difference in ride height and spring/shock rates at aggressive road speeds there is no difference in cornering speeds. There is though a difference at track days going at speeds much much higher than you would go on the roads (I am an aggressive driver outside of the city having lost my licence three times instantly for "excessive speed", so am no grandma driver.
The cars were pretty good right from the factory, I`m slowed by most newer cars through the wiggly bits on the open road in either of my 156`s but we are talking about real world roads, not perfect with the odd bump right at the wrong place in a corner etc. I know here in NZ our roads vary a lot more in both surface and conditions but even so if your vehicle is to be used outside of major urban areas and motorways don`t compromise a very competent car.
 

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If the car is going to be used in the real world I would go to stock. I have two 156`s a CF2 TS and a`98 CF2 V6, the TS having the standard Lusso spec suspension, the V6 Veloce suspension, the TS riding much much better and despite the difference in ride height and spring/shock rates at aggressive road speeds there is no difference in cornering speeds. There is though a difference at track days going at speeds much much higher than you would go on the roads (I am an aggressive driver outside of the city having lost my licence three times instantly for "excessive speed", so am no grandma driver.
The cars were pretty good right from the factory, I`m slowed by most newer cars through the wiggly bits on the open road in either of my 156`s but we are talking about real world roads, not perfect with the odd bump right at the wrong place in a corner etc. I know here in NZ our roads vary a lot more in both surface and conditions but even so if your vehicle is to be used outside of major urban areas and motorways don`t compromise a very competent car.
2 issues with this solution for the OP's car.

1. The standard Lusso suspension would be too soft for the V6 at the front, and too high for the rear of an SW. (It most likely had nivomats and veloce ride height from the factory and there is no spring other than the GT 3.2 spring that maintains the factory ride height for the SW. The springs on the nivomats were merely helper springs, the nivomat did the job of spring and shock, they do not work on any shock other than the nivomat).
2. The Veloce springs will be too low at the rear for the same reason as above.

The SW is a different beast too all other 156's. As I have said in my post, I have been down the entire road of trial and error. In terms of shocks/springs there are only 2 solutions for the OP's car, my one or coil overs.
 

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In NZ most SW`s either TS or V6 weren`t fitted with the self levelling and were usually in Veloce spec sold as "Sportswagon" The Lusso pack was sold as 4cyl or 6 cyl. and I have seen (as a previous Euro garage owner - Italtune, here in Christchurch) a Lusso V6 manual Sportwagon. There was recently a Lusso specced V6 berlina for sale on our Trademe (equivalent to your Ebay). We obviously got some different specifications to UK.
 
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